Recommended reading for the weekend

Excerpts appear below:

  1. Best of the week:  “The Natives of Planet Earth“, Tom Engelhardt at TomDispatch (3 April 2008)
  2. Heavy Troop Deployments Are Called Major Risk“, Washington Post  (2 April 2008)
  3. What Will Life Be Like in the Year 2008?”,  Mechanix Illustrated (November 1968)
  4. Color of War, Michael Yon (no date)

I.  Best of the week:  “The Natives of Planet Earth“, Tom Engelhardt at TomDispatch (3 April 2008) — A must-read for Americans who wish to see how we are seen by people elsewhere, and how are our imperial national security policy breaks with norms of international conduct that have generally ruled since 1648.  Lack of awareness on other’s perceptions is one of the major causes of foreign policy errors.  Except:

Yes, their defensive zone is the planet and they patrol it regularly. As ever, their planes and drones have been in the skies these last weeks. They struck a village in Somalia, tribal areas in Pakistan, rural areas in Afghanistan, and urban neighborhoods in Iraq. Their troops are training and advising the Iraqi army and police as well as the new Afghan army, while their Special Operations forces are planning to train Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps in that country’s wild, mountainous borderlands. …

II.  “Heavy Troop Deployments Are Called Major Risk“, Washington Post  (2 April 2008) — “Readiness Is Dangerously Low, Army Chief Says”.  Except: 

Senior Army and Marine Corps leaders said yesterday that the increase of more than 30,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has put unsustainable levels of stress on U.S. ground forces and has put their readiness to fight other conflicts at the lowest level in years.

III.  The allies of our allies are the part of an enemy terrorist group, and pensioniers of our enemies. 

Round and Round We Go, Ilan Goldenberg at Democracy Arsenal (3 April 2008) — Excerpt (bold emphasis added):

So, I was at a great Center for American Progress panel yesterday with journalists Nir Rosen and Michael Ware. T hey have been in Iraq for most of the last five years and get the perspective on the ground the we don’t usually hear about here. W are said something that just totally blew my mind.

The Badr Organization is the military arm of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI previously known as SCIRI).  Now ISCI is closely aligned with Maliki government and is arguably the most significant player in the current central government. In fact significant elements of the Badr Organization have been incorporated into the Iraqi Security Forces.

Now, here is where things start to break down. The Badr Organization (Originally called the Badr Brigades) was originally formed by Iran. But according to Ware many of its members were considered to be part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.  And many of them are now considered to be retirees of the IRGC. Which means…wait for it… wait for it…

They still get pensions from the IRGC!!  But it gets better.  The Bush Administration has classified the IRGC as a terrorist organization!!

IV.  “What Will Life Be Like in the Year 2008?”,  Mechanix Illustrated (November 1968) — Not too accurate a forecast, but interesting to read 40 years later.

IT’S 8 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008, and you are headed for a business appointment 300 mi. away. You slide into your sleek, two-passenger air-cushion car, press a sequence of buttons and the national traffic computer notes your destination, figures out the current traffic situation and signals your car to slide out of the garage. Hands free, you sit back and begin to read the morning paper — which is flashed on a flat TV screen over the car’s dashboard. Tapping a button changes the page.

V.  Color of War, Michael Yon (no date) – Reads like a National Geographic article (which is high praise, imo), describing places and events that few of us will ever see.  His book is available soon:  Moment of Truth in Iraq.

Desolate Battles, Western Nineveh Province.   

Iraq Desert Battles are unfolding in hidden and faraway places. Bullets snapp through air, then splap through flesh and men fall. Bodies crumple onto the desert, a fly lands on the lip of an open mouth, fingers twitch as the flesh dies and the winds kick up and dust settles on unblinking eyes. The dry earth drinks their sticky blood and they are forgotten. Their families do not know they are dead. They came to kill Americans and innocent Iraqis. Instead, they were killed themselves. In a desert landscape, sometimes the color of a war can bleed out into black and white.

 Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).



1 thought on “Recommended reading for the weekend”

  1. The Modern Mechanix article semi-accurately predicts:
    1) Roombas;
    2) “cognitive supplements” like gingko biloba etc.
    3) laptops with touchscreens and printers
    4) e-commerce, online shopping

    It overestimated:
    1) The use of industrial automation in home meal preparation;
    2) domed cities
    3) centrally planned traffic for hands-free driving
    4) passenger rockets
    Overall, it’s optimistic and assumes that people will really do the most efficient thing. It also overestimates the effectiveness and quality of the delivered products. Roombas are not a total turnkey cleaning solution; e-commerce has fraud, etc.

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